From The Guardian:
A brutal year for the UK’s public libraries has been topped off with the revelation that the sector took a £25m [approx. $31 million/USD] hit to its budgets in the year to March, as calculated in official figures released on Wednesday. The number of public libraries still open reached a 10-year low, while visitor numbers slid by 15 million. Book budgets were also severely hit, taking an 8.4% fall over the period. Critics claimed the cuts endanger the long-term survival of the sector.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) released the figures as part of its annual survey of library authorities in the UK.
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- Number of libraries fell by 1.7% year on year, from 3,917 (2014/15) to 3,850 (2015/16).
- Total visits dropped 5.5%, from 265 million (2014/5) to 250 million (2015/16).
- Total expenditure for Great Britain library services fell by £25m, from £944m (2014/15) to £919m (2015/16).
- FTE paid library staff fell by 5.3% between 2014/15 and 2015/16, from 18,028 to 17,064. Volunteer numbers rose by 7.5% during the period, from 41,402 to 44,501.
This year’s findings echo a five-year trend of decline. Libraries across Great Britain have seen a 14% reduction in total net expenditure, from £979m in 2011/12 to £842m in 2015/16. Meanwhile, there has also been 16.2% fewer visitors in five years, from 299 million in 2011/12 to 250 million in 2015/16.
The top five most visited libraries across England, Scotland and Wales over the last year were:
- Library of Birmingham, Birmingham: 1,602,070 visits.
- Central Library, Manchester: 1,480,941 visits.
- Wembley, Brent: 1,381,032 visits.
- Norfolk & Norwich Millennium, Norfolk: 1,25,291 visits.
- Woolwich, Greenwich: 1,135,774 visits.
In terms of book or other loans, the top five libraries over the last year were:
- Norfolk & Norwich Millennium, Norfolk: 984,445.
- The Hive Worcester, Worcestershire: 827,061.
- Llanelli, Carmarthenshire: 555,712.
- Cambridge Central, Cambridgeshire: 501,594.
- Oxford Central, Oxfordshire: 462,536.